Bundle London Share Ideas For
Play and Bond With Your Baby
One of the very best things about becoming a parent is all the fun you can have playing with your kids - making up games, making them laugh and spending time together being silly! However, all that good stuff doesn’t really kick in until they are toddlers and beyond. It can be difficult to think of ways to play and bond with a younger baby, so we asked the experts at Bundle London for their suggestions.
Amanda is co-founder of Bundle London, and has been teaching antenatal and postnatal classes for many years. She has supported hundreds of new parents through their first year with their baby, and alongside the expert team at Bundle teaches parents skills such as baby first aid, feeding, weaning and all sorts of other nifty things that help parents and babies to be content and confident together. Amanda is also a mum of five, including two sets of twins, so she has certainly entertained plenty of babies!
Why play with a baby?
When you’ve been up throughout the night, and at home all day with only a very new baby to talk to, the thought of playing with them can seem mad! You may think they are unlikely to understand you, they certainly won’t play along, and frankly they are rubbish at chess.
However there are lots of reasons to find creative ways to play with your baby, including;
Sensory stimulation - providing baby with different things to look at, to feel, new sounds to hear all stimulate their senses and feed their natural curiosity about the world around them. At first it will be difficult to hold their attention, which is normal and totally OK, but as time goes on you will be amazed to see them watching and listening to you for longer and longer periods, until they begin to react to what you’re doing. Just because they can’t physically clap along doesn’t mean they aren’t getting anything from your brilliant puppet show adaptation of Hamilton.
Development - Babies are constantly absorbing and processing the world around them. Gently introducing them to new games and activities helps their brain and body to develop and grow stronger.
Tiring them out - you want more sleep at night? Make the most of their awake time in the day! Whilst you definitely don’t need to be putting on a 12 hour pantomime from the second they wake up, stimulating their minds for short periods during the day will help to tire them out for bed time.
Bonding - Whilst your baby can’t yet tell you how they feel, and may not understand the words you say, they certainly gain a lot from your touch and the sound of your voice. Skin to skin is the best way to bond with your baby as it soothes them, reassures them that their Mum or Dad is close by, and actually helps them to regulate temperature and heart rate. Skin to skin also helps if you are establishing breastfeeding, as the closeness helps to stimulate your milk and get things flowing.
Baby massage and baby yoga have a host of wonderful benefits and many have found it has enriched their confidence, has increased their ability to read their baby's cues and has contributed to their enjoyment of being a parent.
Through baby massage and yoga you and your baby can learn moves that not only feel good, but also help with issues such as reflux, colic and trapped wind. As you gently massage your baby or help them through a pattern of yoga moves they will get all the benefit of your touch, as well as seeing your face close by and hearing your voice chatting through what you’re doing.
It is important to take care and keep playtime fun and happy by only doing massage and yoga moves that are comfortable and safe for your baby’s developing body. Bundle offer classes in small groups with other mums and dads.
Newborns spend a lot of time sleeping on their backs, albeit in little chunks split throughout a 24 hr period, so it is important to encourage them onto their fronts for some tummy time play time! This will help to develop the core muscles of their neck, back and shoulders. It will also help them to meet their developmental milestones, such as crawling and to potentially prevent early motor delays and conditions such as flat head syndrome and twisted neck.
Some different tummy time moves are;
1. Lie down on the floor or a bed, flat or propped up on pillows. Lie your baby on your tummy or chest (tummy-to-tummy or tummy-to-chest). Your baby can practice lifting his head up and down quite well from this position.
2. Tummy down carry or Football Hold - Position one hand under the tummy and between the legs and carry baby tummy down with the majority of baby’s tummy on your forearm. Use other hand to support baby’s head and neck. Nestle baby close to your body.
3. When sitting down, place baby face down across your lap to burp or soothe them. A hand on baby’s bottom will help steady and calm them. This is also tummy time – so two in one if you are winding too!
4. Get on the floor and get level with your baby to encourage eye contact. Roll up a towel or small blanket and place it lengthways under their chest and upper arms for added support. You can also place some of their favourite toys within their sight or grasp.
As your baby gets a little older and is able to grab things, they will find a lot to discover and enjoy in a basket of surprise household items. Under supervision they can hold and explore items such as a silicon spatula, a set of keys, tin foil, raw vegetables or shiny spoons. Have a look around your house and see what interesting items you can find that baby wouldn’t usually get their hands on, then you can enjoy watching your baby explore them for the first time, and tell your baby what they are and what you use them for.
As these items are not toys please supervise your baby at all times, and pay extra attention for them putting items in their mouth.
These are just a few of the easy ways to play and have fun with your baby - there are millions more of course! If you get stuck for ideas on a rainy day have a look on Pinterest, it’s full of great, simple ideas that you can try at home.
However rest assured that just hearing your voice and seeing your face interacting with them is great for your baby. Chat to them about what you’re doing through the day, and put yourself at their level nice and close up so they can focus on your features, and they will gain a lot from the interaction.
This is the really fun part of parenting, that will create the moments you will want to remember forever. If you need some help with the tricky parts such as sleep issues, weaning worries and first aid skills do come and chat to us at Bundle as our team of experts (including GPs, Midwives, Postnatal Physios, Breastfeeding Consultants, Sleep Consultants and more) can help! “